Integrity is a demanding discipline. We are challenged by cultural values and pressures to conform. Integrity requires that we be fully responsible for our actions. Living with integrity requires living a life of reflection, living in consistency with our beliefs, and doing so regardless of personal consequences. Not least, it calls for a single standard of truth. From the beginning, Friends have held to this standard, and have often witnessed against the mainstream. When they suffered in consequence of their witness against secular order, their integration of belief and practice upheld them in adversity.
Speaking the truth in all circumstances* and at all times, as enjoined in the Bible, is shown in the refusal to take oaths. Oaths imply that there are times the truth is not necessarily told and early Friends believed that the system of requiring oaths taught people that lies were otherwise acceptable. Truth telling led to a one-price system in merchandising, with fair value for fair price rather than bargaining or discrimination between buyers.
Friends believe in speaking simply, avoiding misleading words or emotionally manipulative language, which could divert from the discernment of God’s will. Commitment to truth requires authenticity and veracity in following one’s conscience, illuminated by the Inner Light. When we depart from truth, we separate ourselves from God. Integrity is not simply a habit of speech, but a way of life increasingly aligned with God’s will.
*Particular circumstances have occasionally presented Friends with painful and difficult choices. Kenneth Barnes discusses obeying a deeper call when he writes: “The integrity of some Dutch Friends I have met showed itself during the war in their willingness to tell lies to save their Jewish friends from the Gestapo or from starvation.” Kenneth C. Barnes, 1972 (Britain Yearly Meeting, Quaker Faith and Practice, 1995, §20.44)
Source: Excerpted from Pacific Yearly Meeting, Faith and Practice, Integrity Testimony, 2001